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My Vietnam, Your Vietnam: A Father Flees. A Daughter Returns. A Dual Memoir (2024)

de Christina Vo, Nghia M. Vo (Autor)

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1991,149,482 (3.8)14
A chronicle of the divergent journeys of a father, who fled post-war Vietnam on a small boat to find refuge in the United States, and his American-born daughter, who ventures to Vietnam as an adult, capturing the stark contrast between their perspectives as they strive to heal the long-term wounds of war. In this dual memoir, Christina Vo and her father, Nghia M. Vo, delve into themes of identity and heritage, with intertwined stories that present a multifaceted portrayal of Vietnam and its profound influence on shaping both familial bonds and individual identities across time. Nghia left Vietnam in April 1975 with only the clothes on his back, following the US withdrawal of troops and the fall of Saigon. After a harrowing two month journey, he found himself in a refugee camp outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where he began the painful process of reconnecting with his family and rebuilding his life as a medical doctor. He never spoke about Vietnam with his daughter, Christina, who grew up in the US, As a restless young adult, she felt a longing to discover her heritage and soon moved to Hanoi, to experience a Vietnam that had changed dramatically since the war, yet retained some of the ancient traits she experienced in her own father. Captivating in its fluid movement and evocative depictions of place, My Vietnam, Your Vietnam offers readers a rich, multilayered exploration of Vietnam through two very distinct voices and perspectives. The memoir aims to deepen readers' understanding and appreciation of Vietnam and its culture by showcasing these two contrasting viewpoints.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 8 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Esta resenha foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Resenhistas do LibraryThing.
My Vietnam, Your Vietnam, A Father Flees. A Daughter Returns, Christina Vo and Nghia M. Vo,
authors of a dual memoir.
This book is an interesting perspective on the immigrant experience. One side is written by a person who fled war and persecution, who feels lucky to have enriched his life in his adopted country, America, and lucky for having achieved success; he feels accepted. The other, is written by his daughter, born in America, but who yearns for a connection to her father, taciturn by nature and background. She yearns to learn more about her heritage and her parents’ birth countries. She feels something is missing from her life. Because of his upbringing and the Vietnamese culture, her father never opens up to her to share his life completely, and that is a disappointment both to the daughter and the reader. When the book ended, I felt desperate for more. I wanted a more complete vision of what was accomplished by both of them, from their experiences. Did they have any great “aha” moments? It seemed, however, that like father, like daughter, for both sides of this memoir seemed to be written a bit clinically, and lacked emotional context.
With her need to discover who she was, Christina decided to visit Vietnam. She traveled first to Hanoi, a place her father rejected. She then went to Saigon and then back again to Hanoi. She liked different aspects of each city. Only in her very early twenties, her first job was an internship for no pay. However, by the time she felt ready to think about leaving Vietnam, and returning to America to live, it was almost a decade later. By that time, she had also worked for the United Nations, another job that did not seem to fulfill her needs. After approximately a total of 11 years, she returned to her birth country, the United States. Often, because she was searching for something she herself could not identify, she was not sure of what she needed or wanted and remained unsatisfied.
The short chapters pretty much alternate between the father and the daughter, but sometimes they seemed disconnected, with one having little to do with the other. Still, the description of the country and what it meant to both of them as a homeland, created beautiful images of the landscape. I would have liked a more comprehensive connection between their two experiences, and I thought that perhaps there would be a second book to follow, one that would elaborate more fully on their relationships and experiences in Vietnam. At the end, it seemed to me that where each was born, and what life gave them early on, informed most of their desires, ideas and experiences they sought.
Nghia Vo fled Saigon when the Communists invaded, but Christine was drawn to Hanoi and the Communist community because of its structure. Her father’s village, in Saigon, lacked the structure she craved, but offered the easygoing lifestyle and family connection that she missed. Unlike Nghia, who embraced whatever moment he was in, wanting desperately to be part of his adopted country, Christina consistently felt like an outsider, unable to embrace the experience fully.
The writing style of both father and daughter are engaging and inviting. I felt immediately welcomed into their world to discover about both their past and their present. Their descriptions were filled with the imagery of a country that is known for the beauty of its landscape and the gentleness of what is described as a peace-loving people, busy enjoying life at a leisurely pace before an enemy descended upon them. I had some difficulty with the language and names of the locales, as I had no idea how to pronounce them, but I tried not to let that distract me, so it did not prevent me from learning about their experiences or appreciating their necessary adjustments each time. I also discovered, from the narrative, what I had suspected would be revealed, that some believed that America had interfered, perhaps, in a place and conflict it did not belong. Was America responsible for a lot of the ensuing suffering or was the rescue of those who fled a bigger redeeming feature.
Immigration is tricky. If one is not willing to be part of the melting pot and insists on being a piece of the stew, can one fully integrate into their new country or will that person remain an outsider, eventually working to obstruct any effort to embrace them? In essence, from the start, America was a country completely populated by immigrants, so aren’t we all, in a sense, “other”, or “outside” the circle? I was left wondering if the immigrant experience was not what the immigrant made of it, or did it depend on the ability to blend into the society adopted. Physically and mentally, there is great variation. Lifestyle and living conditions vary as well. Is it possible to be really happy if you simply create a small version of your past life in your new one, or are you better off becoming a new person in your new life? Regardless of the choice, immigrants face a challenging future and their children sometimes face an unknown background and cannot find a comfortable place for themselves where they feel a part of the world they have been thrust into by others. ( )
1 vote thewanderingjew | Mar 26, 2024 |
Esta resenha foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Resenhistas do LibraryThing.
I received a free ARC through the LTER in exchange for my honest opinion. I was very curious to read this book, because I have friends who came from Vietnam as "boat people". The book is written as a dual autobiography from the dad's side and the daughter's side. I thought the beginning was very good and most of the father's writings about his life in Vietnam and the US was interesting. The daughter seemed way to confused and I simply couldn't understand her and her constant moving around the world. I have daughters that are about the same age and they both have lived and worked overseas (they are both in Europe right now!) but I sure hope they are not as whiny! ( )
  yukon92 | Mar 18, 2024 |
Esta resenha foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Resenhistas do LibraryThing.
his book is a "dual memoir" with chapters alternating between the American-born Christina Vo, and her father, a physician who immigrated from South Vietnam in 1975. Christina Vo was raised in mostly white suburbs, without a lot of connection to Vietnam, not really even knowing the language. She had/has a distant relationship with her father. In her 20's she goes to Vietnam, working for a international agency. She has a really different relationship with Vietnam than her father does. You can really see the gaps in connection between them, for example when she does not consider what his feelings will be when she chooses to go to Hanoi rather than Saigon. Of course, how would she know when he didn't talk to her about Vietnam, while she was growing up?

Overall, an interesting book, I am glad that I read it. The writing is good, not great, but the topic was interesting enough to pull me through. I appreciated how hard it was for Nghia Vo to lose his homeland, and to know that he could never really return. Christina Vo's journey was interesting, she seems to be somewhat flighty and undisciplined. It's probably partly her way have being self-deprecating; I suspect she is really a more solid than it seemed, but I also wondered if feeling disconnected from her culture played a part. ( )
1 vote banjo123 | Mar 16, 2024 |
Esta resenha foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Resenhistas do LibraryThing.
Christina Vo grew up in a series of small towns across the US, almost always the only Asian family in town. Her father, Nghia, was frequently moving to new internships, residencies, and eventually practices as a physician surgeon interested in neuropsychiatry. She was never close to her taciturn father, a relationship that only worsened when her mother died when Christina was fourteen. After college, Christina worked an office job for a giant pharmaceutical company, but felt unfulfilled. What she needed, she thought, was to go to Vietnam. With little forethought or planning, she headed for Hanoi, not understanding her father's silent grief at her decision.

Nghia was raised for several years by his grandmother in the countryside of South Vietnam and the rest by his single mother in Saigon. He unwittingly embraced the dual nature of Vietnam (North and South, rural and urban, Catholic and Buddhist). He became a doctor and upon graduating, became a joined the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. He was stationed in the South and when the Communists took over, he was able to escape to the US. He had to leave behind his wife and wasn't reunited for several years. He immediately began working on translating his French-based medical degree to an American one and led a successful, if quiet, life in the US.

The book is told in alternating chapters between Christina's impressions of Vietnam on three separate trips, living there for extended periods throughout her twenties, and Nghia's memories and longing for a country that no longer exists. Each chapter is only a few pages long, so the change between perspectives is frequent, but often with overlapping subjects. Nghia's chapters are taken from his previously published memoir, [The Pink Lotus].

Christina's journey of self-discovery is sometimes self-sabotaging, as she refuses for years to learn Vietnamese and often acts impulsively, not unlike many twenty-year-olds. I had hoped for more of a reconciliation between father and daughter, but their relationship is, I feel, still a work in progress. Both authors are good writers, and I especially enjoyed Nghia's childhood memories. Overall the dual memoir is a look at how differently two generations of family can view their country of origin and yet both feel a connection and love despite living abroad for most of their lives. ( )
4 vote labfs39 | Mar 3, 2024 |
Esta resenha foi escrita no âmbito dos Primeiros Resenhistas do LibraryThing.
My Vietnam Your Vietnam is a stunning book. I love its cover, which is the first thing that drew me to read this. I don’t really gravitate towards memoirs, but I was intrigued by the dual father/daughter perspectives of this one. It did not disappoint. The writing is as lovely as the cover and there was much to learn from Nghia’s and Christina’s narratives. I will definitely be recommending this one. Thank you to the publisher and LibraryThing for providing a review copy of this book. ( )
1 vote WritingMom | Feb 22, 2024 |
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A chronicle of the divergent journeys of a father, who fled post-war Vietnam on a small boat to find refuge in the United States, and his American-born daughter, who ventures to Vietnam as an adult, capturing the stark contrast between their perspectives as they strive to heal the long-term wounds of war. In this dual memoir, Christina Vo and her father, Nghia M. Vo, delve into themes of identity and heritage, with intertwined stories that present a multifaceted portrayal of Vietnam and its profound influence on shaping both familial bonds and individual identities across time. Nghia left Vietnam in April 1975 with only the clothes on his back, following the US withdrawal of troops and the fall of Saigon. After a harrowing two month journey, he found himself in a refugee camp outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where he began the painful process of reconnecting with his family and rebuilding his life as a medical doctor. He never spoke about Vietnam with his daughter, Christina, who grew up in the US, As a restless young adult, she felt a longing to discover her heritage and soon moved to Hanoi, to experience a Vietnam that had changed dramatically since the war, yet retained some of the ancient traits she experienced in her own father. Captivating in its fluid movement and evocative depictions of place, My Vietnam, Your Vietnam offers readers a rich, multilayered exploration of Vietnam through two very distinct voices and perspectives. The memoir aims to deepen readers' understanding and appreciation of Vietnam and its culture by showcasing these two contrasting viewpoints.

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